Poetry is Everywhere

I’m just going to come out and say it: People take poetry too seriously.

So many people I talk to think of poetry as this bougie, intellectual thing that people pretend to like to seem smarter at dinner parties. Poetry is like dry red wine or Ernest Hemingway novels, available everywhere, but you can’t find a single person who genuinely likes it for what it is. Now, I find this absolutely baffling because I actually like poetry. No, I’m not trying to impress anyone or look smarter. I like poetry and I like reading it, but that’s because I have never taken it too seriously.

I think the issue is how we are introduced to poetry. More often than not, a person’s first introduction to poems is in some type of high school class in which a stuffy teacher recites flowery sonnets and then forces the class to write a five page essay on the symbolism and word choices of that poet. It seems like we’re taught from a young age that poetry is this complex, abstract thing that needs to be carefully dissected to be fully understood. It takes effort to enjoy it properly and that is utter bullshit in my opinion.

Poetry is defined as, “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure.”  Basically, poetry is any and every combination of words that you find pleasant. And, as is often the case, you get to decide what you find pleasant and why. It doesn’t take a five page essay and a deep understanding of things like alliteration, symbolism, and rhyming schemes to know that you like the way something sounds or makes you feel.

A few months ago, one of my coworkers found me in my office reading a collection of E.E. Cummings poems. She said something along the lines of, “Wow, you’re so smart. I need to read poetry.” Well, after that, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I have no idea what his poetry is supposed to be about. I just like it because it’s fun to read out loud.

My favorite poem by Cummings is “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town,”

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Read that out loud.

Isn’t it fun? It’s got this rhythm to it. It’s like music.

Do I have any idea what it means? Absolutely not. In my opinion, good poetry is sometimes like pop music. Meaningless and fun, and that’s okay.

On the topic of my favorite poems, some of my favorites aren’t even poems. They’re single lines of text that I found on Twitter or Tumblr or in a novel that just resonated with me. Here are some of my favorites:  

“What a blessed if painful thing, this business of being alive.” – Joe Hill

“Do sharks complain about Monday. No. They’re up early, biting stuff, chasing shit, being scary – reminding everyone they’re a fucking shark.” – Tumblr 

“What can be done when you’re eleven can often never be done again.” – Stephen King

“Believe in yourself. You are an ancient, absent god, discussed only rarely by literary scholars. So if you don’t believe, no one will.” – Welcome to Nightvale

I love these “mini poems” because they say something deep and profound without burying it underneath a lot of unnecessary prose or rhymes. Straight and to the point while still being lyrical and beautiful. Poetry doesn’t have to be obscure to be well done or pleasant.

Now, I could continue talking about this for a while, but I’m down in Vancouver for work and just finished up a two-day science communication conference. I’m ready for a fucking beer.

“I’m ready for a fucking beer.” Look, a new poem.



Tweeting with a Human

The internet has brought a lot of people a lot closer together.  The rise of blogging, vlogging, YouTube and other internet platforms have thrown a lot of interesting people into the lime light.

The personalized medium makes many people feel like they know these pseudo-celebrities on a more intimate level than they do.  Even when these people haven’t even met these celebrities.  I feel this way myself!

I am an avid Game Grumps fan.  I feel like I know who those people are.  They present themselves in a very candid, personal way.  I’ve heard many of their stories and life events.  I know a lot about these people who I’ve never even laid eyes on.

The thing is if I ever met them it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to approach them in a candid, personal way.  I interact with these people online presence everyday, and its really easy to forget that they don’t know me like I feel like I know them.

I personally wouldn’t accost one of these internet celebrities.  They don’t know me, and even though I feel personally connected to them, I’m not.  They probably aren’t ever going to be a friend of mine.  I’m a stranger.  They have millions of these people who feel close to them, and they can’t possibly have serious friendships with most of these people.  I’m sure they’d love to try, but they aren’t timeless gods.

Its been mentioned a lot by these people how hard it is sometimes to deal with people who want to make them a fixture in their life.  Markiplier mentioned once that he actually had to move because some of his fans found his apartment and bothered him at odd times.  The Game Grumps get stopped at the most banal of places.  They talk about how sometimes its very exhausting to try and maintain a good face after the bazillionth fan has said hello, wanted a photo or autograph.

I’m reading a series by one of my favorite authors Django Wexler.  His books have a feel to them that I can’t find elsewhere.  The lore is deep, the world is complex, and his characters feel real.  I get excited about this stuff, and it makes me interested in the person who crafted this world.

I tweeted at him one day.  I don’t remember exactly what it was, but he favorited the tweet.  Its kind of exciting!  Someone you only know in the abstract, identifiable by his famous persona, acknowledged your existence.

The craziest part is the fact that the next time he straight up tweeted back at me.  I tweet at him on a semi-regular basis.  Most of the time I’m quipping at something he says or is doing.  He tweets back at me occasionally.  I have had entire brief conversations with him via twitter, and it makes me feel cool.

The thing is he isn’t trying to live up to some personality I’ve assigned him.  He’s just a man who writes books I love.  He plays games like I do, and has a handful of similar interests.  We are able to connect across these distances and converse about very human things.  That idea right there is what I think many people don’t consider when they see or meet a celebrity.  They are only human.  And I think we as a people would do to remember that at their core, all people are just… people.

I actually got to meet Django recently at Powell’s for a book signing.  He graciously signed all of my original hard covers and he gave me some totally sweet metal engraved book marks.  I introduced myself to him as Daniel, and that I tweet at him too much.

He recognized my twitter handle.  Should I be honored, or embarrassed?  Ha!